A 10-year-old boy who collapsed at his Florida home last month and later died had the lethal painkiller fentanyl in his system, making him one of the state’s — and perhaps the country’s — youngest victims of the opioid crisis, officials said.
Alton Banks started vomiting at his Overtown home after a trip to the neighborhood pool on June 23. He fell unconscious that evening and was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Preliminary toxicology tests showed Alton had fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told the Miami Herald.
No evidence suggests the fifth-grader came into contact with the fentanyl at his home, but authorities believe he may have unknowingly come into contact with the dangerous drug on the street.
“He was out playing, like we want all our children to do. It’s unclear whether it was at the pool or on the walk home,” Fernandez Rundle told the paper. “We’re anxiously hoping that someone comes forward to help us solve this horrific death.”
Fentanyl, the deadlier cousin of heroin, is so powerful that just a speck inhaled or absorbed through the skin can cause a fatal overdose.
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office is still running toxicology reports and a final report is pending, officials said.
Alton, who had dreams of becoming an engineer and was an avid Carolina Panthers fan, is among the youngest of victims of the country's horrific opioid epidemic.
In the first half of 2016, fentanyl and its analogs killed 853 people and contributed to 135 more deaths in Florida, state records analyzed by the Herald showed.
Of those, nine were under the age of 18.